I love my solo walks. After a day of mommy duties, work and playtime, I love my solo time outside in Nature.
My husband Nate and I share so many of the same passions, understandings and philosophy of living our nourishing and magical lives. One way this shows is by making sure we each have ample solo time in nature – time to walk, explore, wander, practice qigong, move like animals through the landscape, do sit spot, climb trees and logs, tone with stones, listen to the Earth and connect with our land, waters and sky we call home. We do this often with our son and together as a whole family. And enjoying our solo time is deeply important for our own nourishment, aliveness and living learning from our greatest teacher, Mother Earth.
Last week, after a day full of nursing and tender caring for our son who has been experiencing intense teething pain (molars coming in! ouch!!), he went to bed early. In seeing my need of replenishment, Nate encouraged me to take some solo time outside. Gladly and gratefully, I slipped on my coat and hat and headed into the spring evening light.
AHHHH! Sniffing the fresh, moist cooling air as the orange-pink light colored the billowing clouds above our neighborhood grove of Doublas fir trees, I felt my heart expand and my body relax. I love love love being Orion’s Mama and all the wonder and challenge that entails, AND coming outside gives my body a chance to unwind and replenish.
My spirit lifts as I hear the cheerful and soothing songs of our robins and look behind me to see the forests of cedar, big leaf maple, Douglas fir and cottonwoods growing above the slow, flowing Snoqualmie river to my west. I continue walking east, and enter our local stand of Douglas fir trees, planted ~ 30-40 years ago.
I stop and my eyes open wide. One tree in particular, catches my eye. The gentle evening breeze playfully moves through the needles and branches causing this whole green, needled Being to sway and move with such ease, grace and vibrant presence. In a moment a feel the tree’s aliveness. I feel the sentience of this beautiful Tree being. In the next moment I sense and feel the living, breathing branches, needles of the whole forest before me.
How many times had I walked past these trees, greeting them, but not fully seeing/feeling them for the magnificent beings they are? I easily sense this in the wilderness and amongst our old growth forests, but what about this grove here, a forest planted by people several decades earlier? I’ve begun appreciating this forest and others like it, more and more as a new Mama – as my adventures with my son, Orion, are on a smaller scale than my pre-mama adventures. Yet I’m feeling they are just as grand…and take me deeper into a place of being and belonging.
I think of an old, wise Chinese proverb, this evening while walking solo among these fir needled friends. “The best time to plant is tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I feel grateful for those with the forethought to plant this grove and marvel at just how big these trees will grow in another 40+ years when Orion is my age!
I continue down our path, now heading south towards the beautiful Tolt River, our beloved river of swiftly flowing waters. The golden light of the evening’s setting sun casts a warm glow upon the big leaf maples, sprouting salmon berry plants, glistening sword ferns and newly budding cottonwood trees lining the path. More robins and song sparrows sing in celebration of this ordinary yet extraordinary spring evening.
Feeling the pull of my beloved river friend, I keep meandering south toward the increasingly audible and soothing sounds of the flowing waters. I arrive and come to a bridge where I love looking downriver, and then peering upriver to the river bends and the mountains from which it comes. One of our valley’s common merganser ducks, a single male, flies east along the water’s path, as I also spot one of our resident eagles circling above a towering cottonwood tree as it flies towards its grand nest down river to the west.
I stand, my heart and face smiling, and in an instant feel an upwelling of gratitude, a supreme gift from this Land, this valley of two rivers, the flowing waters, surrounding forests and great open sky. This gratitude is rooted in a sense of belonging, of my deepening connection to this land and the cycles of life and seasons I get to witness, participate and celebrate in each year — first with my husband and his two daughters when I joined their family, and now also as a Mama with our own son, Orion.
I have traveled far and wide on our beloved Earth and into vast wilderness expanse and mountain tops and forests of the Pacific Northwest and way beyond. And now I am traveling deep in a different way. It’s a rooting – a growing roots in my homelands of this two-river valley and surrounding mountains I now call home.
I love living here and seeing the rivers change with each season, how the stones get rearranged during each storm and the river choses different paths each year, continually evolving its millennial carving of the riverbanks. I love welcoming the returning salmon each fall, the osprey that come to nest by the Tolt each spring, our eagles that come for the colder months with their home by the rivers’ convergence, and the trumpeter swans that arrive and live here each winter. I love tracking the wildlife in the forests, on the mud flats and in the sand by the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers, and noting the bear and coyote scat on the trails. I love watching how the beavers prune and shape the growth of the new, young cottonwood trees on the river banks and gravel bars.
I love that when Nate and I moved in together, we did a ceremony by the river to celebrate and ask blessings upon our family and home we were creating together, that when engaged, we went to the river to write our wedding vows. And I love that we married where the beautiful swiftly flowing waters of the Tolt converge with the meandering sparkling waters of the Snoqualmie – two rivers joining as one, two lives coming together.
I love that we go to the river for our water ceremonies and ceremonies to mark the seasons, and that I go to the river to play, to pray, to train to be and listen. I love that I went to the river to invite in our child’s spirit into my womb as an eagle flew above me and landed in a fir tree across the water. I love that I while on a wonder wander to the river at 5 months of pregnancy, I asked my baby’s spirit to share his name…and moments later, he shared his name Orion Raven. I love collecting wild medicinal plants, berries, nettles throughout the valley, and growing food in our yard. I love being rooted here in these lands, forests waters and sky.
I remember feeling a sense of being called to this land. When Nate and I were first friends, getting together for play dates to share qigong, Earthgym and martial arts practices, I remember him telling me he was from Carnation. I just felt neutral in hearing that. Yet, later when I came to Carnation, I met the Tolt River for the first time, and then learned the original name of this place was Tolt – named after the river and meaning, “Swiftly flowing waters”. In that moment, something in me awoke. A knowing flowed through my blood. I didn’t understand it at the time but I felt a resonance in my cells. I knew that this place was calling to me and me to it and Tolt was to be my home for a long time. At the time I was not quite sure what it meant as I had been so long living a highly nomadic life. And now, married to my beloved husband and as a new Mama, I do.
I love this land and water. I love these forests and mountains and sky. And I am now of this land. Listening, receiving, loving, giving, musing and rooting. I receive this blessed gift of belonging from the Land.